As a creative entrepreneur I have the freedom and the burden of deciding how to spend my time. With freelance projects, I often sign a contract prior to doing the work with an agreement about how much the project will cost. This can be super difficult because I have to predict how much time I will spend on the project to finish it and come to an agreement about how much that amount of time is worth.
Sometimes, I feel like I'm spending too much time on projects that aren't paying that much. To avoid that, I started to track my time. I loved the app I was using so much I quickly started tracking all my time, even time spent working out, getting ready for the day, or taking my dog for a walk.
I'm a little obsessed with the little chart this app creates showing me where I spend my time because those colors show me if how I spend my time is aligning with what I value.
How we Spend our Time Shows us our Values
Proverbs 8:10-11 says, "Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her."
Instruction is God's Word and guidance. This verse asks us to choose that over some of the most valuable things in the ancient world. The comparison is meant to show how truly nothing compares to the value of what God can offer us–salvation, and an abundant life (John 10:10)
Tracking my time has led me to realize how often throughout the day I make choices about what I value. Melody Wilder, a human behavior professor wrote,
"Your core values affect every aspect of your life. When you feel stuck, they can help get you out of a rut. When you're not sure what to do next, values help lead the way toward decisions that bring you greater satisfaction and joy. Core values help you align your actions with your innate strengths and create a life based on what makes you happy - not others' expectations."
As Christians, we want to build a life with greater depth than just worldly "happiness." That requires us to chase after what God wants for us instead of letting other people's opinions change our minds.
When Proverbs tells us to choose God's instruction over other valuables, my mind immediately goes to one of the highest value items in our culture today–time.
Time with God is an honor, not a requirement
If you're anything like me, you might be reading this thinking about a day earlier this week when you woke up late, grabbed your coffee to go and rushed out the door without picking up your Bible. You thought to yourself, "I'll pray in the car," but turned on some music and rushed off to your destination already late.
In a culture of busyness, giving time to God isn't natural. God is faithful to show up but He isn't a genie in a bottle that we can simply rub and ask Him to appear on command to speak to us. A big misconception in Christian culture today is around what prayer and "quiet time" should look like.
One fun fact that gives us a lot of permission when thinking about our "quiet time" with God is the realization that owning a personal Bible is not the norm around the world.
Actually, around one billion adults are illiterate and 60% of the world's population are still oral learners (The Joshua Project).
So, if your time with God isn't a picture perfect cup of coffee with your personal Bible in the morning, you're in the majority. But that doesn't mean you should avoid it. Just sit down with that cup of coffee and Bible knowing that your time with God is a huge privilege and honor, not a requirement.
Doing Life with God
On my time tracker app, my amount of time specifically spent with God won't surpass around an hour a day for my quiet time, a few hours on Sunday for church, and a few hours during the week for Bible study. My time spent working will always be a greater portion of my life than my time with God.
But, I don't think time with God is limited to those specific set apart times with Him. Those times are an honor and a blessing, but the best way of devoting our time to God is by devoting our lives to Him.
The problem with my app is that it gives each aspect of my life a color. In reality, God colors every part of my life. My time with friends is often Spirit led as conversations reflect God's heart for encouragement and joy. My time spent writing is out of dedication and devotion to a dream God put on my heart.
Psalm 127:1 says,
"Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain."
God doesn't require us to sit with Him reading His Word in picture perfect silence every day. He gives us the offer of letting Him saturate every aspect of our lives so that what we build is built by His power and Spirit.
Choose to value God by devoting time to Him. That should include some quiet time with God, time in prayer, time in the Word, time in worship and time in fellowship. But don't limit God to a section of your life labeled "church" or "quiet time."